Page:Instead of a Book, Tucker.djvu/117

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

and the cats for a mile round swarm to her household. The saucers increase and multiply, and the liver is an item in her butcher's bill. The strain is too great to be borne single-handed. She issues a circular appeal, and she is surprised to find how many are willing to contribute a fair share, although their sympathy shrivels up before an unfair demand. They are willing to be taxed pro rata, but they will not bear the burden of other people's stinginess. "Let the poor cats bear it rather," say they. "What is everybody's business is nobody's business. It is very sad, but it cannot be helped. If we keep one cat, hundreds will starve; so what's the use?" But when once the club is started, nobody feels the burden; the Cats' Home is built and endowed, and all goes well. Hospitals, infirmaries, alms-houses, orphanages, spring up all round. At first they are reckless and indiscriminate, and become the prey of impostors and able-bodied vagrants. Then Rules are framed; the Charity Organization Society co-ordinates and directs public benevolence. And those rules of prudence and economy are copied and adopted in many respects by those who administer the State Poor Law.

Then we have associations of persons who agree on important points of science or politics. They wish to make others think with them, in order that society may be pleasanter and more congenial for themselves. They would button-hole every man in the street and argue the question out with him; but the process is too lengthy and wearisome. They club together and form such institutions as the British and Foreign Bible Society, which has spent seven million pounds in disseminating untruths all over the world. We have the Cobden Club, which is slowly and sadly dying of inconsistency after a career of merited success. We have scientific societies of all descriptions that never ask or expect a penny reward for all their outlay, beyond making other people wiser and pleasanter neighbors. Finally, we have societies banded together to do battle against rivals on the principle of "Union is strength." These clubs are defensive or aggressive. The latter class includes all trading associations, the object of which is to make profits by out-manœuvring competitors. The former or defensive class includes all the political societies formed for the purpose of resisting the State,—the most aggressive club in existence. Over one hundred of these "protection societies" of one sort and another are now federated under the hegemony of the Liberty and Property Defence League.

Now we have agreed that the State is to be abolished. What is the result? Here are Watch Committees formed in the great towns to prevent and to insure against burglars, thieves, and like marauders. How they are to be constituted I do not clearly know; neither do I know the limits of their functions. Here again is a Mutual Inquest Society to provide for the examination of dead persons before burial or cremation, in order to make murder as unprofitable a business as possible. Here is a Vigilance Association sending out detectives for the purpose of discovering and lynching the unsocial wretches who knowingly travel in public conveyances with infectious diseases on them. Here is a journal supported by consumers for the advertisement of adulterating dealers. And here again is a Filibustering Company got up by adventurous traders of the old East India Company stamp for the purpose of carrying trade into foreign countries with or without the consent of the invaded parties. Here is a Statistical Society devising Rules to make it unpleasant for those who evade registration and the census, and offering inducement to all who furnish the required information. What sort of organization (if any) will be

formed for the enforcement (not necessarily by brute-force) of contract?